Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane oozes confidence that scoring first against Golden Arrows will allow them to play their normal game as they begin the search for their first MTN8 title since the mobile giants took over sponsorship of the top eight competition in 2008.
Sundowns will open their account against 2009 MTN8 champions Arrows at the Lucas Moripe Stadium tomorrow at 3pm. The MTN8 trophy is the only piece of silverware that is missing from Sundowns’ cabinet since Mosimane’s appointment in the 2012/2013 season.
Arrows have proven to be one of the bogey teams for the defending Absa Premiership champions on a number of occasions, especially after eliminating them from the Nedbank Cup last year. However, the Brazilians have been on the winning end in the last three meetings.
“They are a tricky opponent all the time," Mosimane explained. “They give us a hard time. In the cup competition, they have a way of eliminating us. Luckily, we dealt with them in one of our last games of the league. I think that match will serve as a precursor of what to expect against them because they are a really good team. They have players who have been playing together for the past four years."
Mosimane’s assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi was the coach at Arrows during that successful 2009 MTN8 campaign that saw them hammer Ajax Cape Town 6-0 at Orlando Stadium in the final. On the other hand, the closest that he came in the competition with Sundowns was in the 2016 final against Bidvest Wits but they were humiliated 3-0.
That didn’t dent the bigger picture though, as they went on to clinch the Caf Champions League later in the year, thus establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with in continental football.
Sundowns' set-back at times has been their failure to punish the so-called minnows at home, in both league and cup competitions.
On Tuesday night they fought hard to ensure that they broke last season’s hoodoo team Polokwane City by getting a 2-0 win in their second game of the new campaign.
“We have to try and score the first goal, and when that happens, it will be relief because we can play the way we want to as we will be in charge at that time," he insisted.
“It will be that kind of situation that will actually help us to prevail, unless they give us a surprise and want to go toe-for-toe or pound-for-pound."
One of Sundowns’ biggest strength currently is the incredible backing that they get from their supporters. The Brazilians’ faithful can be seen almost in every game sharing a post-match moment with their beloved players through singing and chants. Mosimane believes they deserve to earn some bragging rights courtesy of an MTN8 win.
“Of course we want to win the top eight, who doesn’t?" he asked. “But for us, I think it’s more of a bragging box that we want to tick. The value of top-8 is huge, you play four games and you get eight million rands. The boys need the money for their families and it’s bragging rights for our supporters."@Mihlalibaleka